18 countries with more exhausting workweeks than the US

© Leo Correa/AP

By Ivan De Luce, Business Insider

  • The average US workweek may be 38.6 hours long, but quite a few countries have employees who spend even more time at the office.
  • Turkey, Colombia, and Mexico all have workweeks that are over 40 hours long, according to the OECD Better Life Index.
  • The longest workweek in the world is in Colombia, where workers are expected to clock in 47.7 hours.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Some countries have a work ethic that makes the US workweek look like a walk in the park.

The average US workweek is 38.6 hours long. That may feel like forever to some people, but it's nothing compared to some countries' workweeks. According to a 40-country annual survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the international average workweek was 36.8 hours in 2018. We looked at the OECD's Better Life Index to find out why workweeks were so long in some places, but not in others.

Next time you're feeling envious of the Dutch workweek (at 29 hours long on average, it's the shortest on the OECD's ranking), remember that some workers spend a lot more time at the office than you do.

Here are the countries with the world's longest workweeks.

19. The United States has a 38.6-hour workweek.

© Getty Images/Mario Tama

In the US, 11% of workers work over 50 hours a week, in line with the OECD's average of 11%. US workers also have 14.4 hours to themselves outside of work, slightly less than the 15-hour OECD average.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,766

18. Lithuania has a 38.7-hour workweek.

© astudio/Shutterstock

Lithuania follows the same five-day, eight-hour workweek as the US, and workers usually come in between 8 and 8:30 am. Occasionally, workers clock in for an extra workday on Saturdays. Workers also get an average of four weeks of paid vacation, which is also standard among other European Union member states.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,616

17. Iceland has a 38.8-hour workweek.

© Photostravellers/Shutterstock

Iceland's workweek hovers below the 40-hour mark, but sources like Iceland Review say it's much longer - 45 hours a week.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,469

16. Greece has a 38.8-hour workweek.

© S-F/Shutterstock

Greek workers spend more time working than most of their European counterparts, but that number used to be much higher. A Greek workweek in 1975 was 48 hours long, compared to today's norm of just under 40 hours a week.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,956

15. Slovenia has a 39-hour workweek.

© Roman Babakin/Shutterstock

Like Greece, Slovenians spend around 39 hours working each week. Slovenians only work 1,603 hours a year on average, unlike Greek workers, who spend 1,956 hours working a year. This is mainly due to far fewer vacation days available in Greece.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,603

14. Latvia has a 39.1-hour workweek.

© Karolis Kavolelis/Shutterstock

Only 1.3% of Latvians work over 50 hours a week, compared with the OECD average of 11%.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,699

13. Slovakia has a 39.1-hour workweek.

© Adrian Zarzuelo/Shutterstock

The average worker in Slovakia makes about 912 euro a month ($1,022). The most lucrative jobs are in finance and insurance (1,747 euros a month), while some of the lowest-paying jobs are in restaurants (512 euros a month).

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,698

12. The Czech Republic has a 39.4-hour workweek.

© Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Like most countries in the European Union, the Czech Republic gives workers about 20 vacation days a year, and at least one of the holiday that workers take must be two weeks long.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,792

11. Portugal has a 39.5-hour workweek.

© S-F/Shutterstock

Despite having a longer average workweek, only 8% of Portuguese workers work over 50 hours a week, compared with the OECD average of 11%.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,722

10. Brazil has a 39.5-hour workweek.

© Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

Brazilian workers spend less of their day outside of work than most countries - 14.6 hours are reserved for eating, sleeping, and socializing, compared the OECD average of 15 hours.

Average annual hours worked per worker: N/A

9. Hungary has a 39.6-hour workweek.

© Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

Women in Hungary have lower fertility rates than women in other OECD countries, partly because there aren't many resources for working mothers to take care of their children aside from parental leave. Only 11% of children under age three are in some form of day care.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,741

8. Poland has a 39.8-hour workweek.

© Jerzy Kociatkiewicz/Flickr/CC 2.0 Attribution

Poland's employment rate is 66% for people aged 15 to 64, slightly below the OECD average of 68%.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,792

7. Israel has a 40.6-hour workweek.

© Itsik Marom/Shutterstock

Israel may not have the longest workweek, but it spends a lot of time working over the course of the year, as shown by their annual hours worked. Around 15.4% of employees work 50 hours or more, and the average Israeli worker only has 13.4 hours outside of work each day, including sleep.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,910

6. Chile has a 42.8-hour workweek.

© Matt Hintsa/Reuters

Chile is no. 38 out of 40 on OECD's ranking for the most average leisure time. That means many Chilean workers don't have much time to themselves outside of work - just 13.3 hours compared to the OECD's 15-hour average.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 1,941

5. South Africa has a 42.9-hour workweek.

© Siphewe Sibeko/Reuters

Only 44% of South Africans aged 15 to 64 have paid jobs, far below the OECD average of 68%. For those who do have jobs, 18% of South Africans work over 50 hours in a week, more than the OECD average of 11%.

Average annual hours worked per worker: N/A

4. Costa Rica has a 44.5-hour workweek.

© Mike/Flickr/CC 2.0 Attribution

Costa Ricans not only have long workweeks, they also have the second-highest annual hours worked, just behind Mexico.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 2,121

3. Mexico has a 45.1-hour workweek.

© Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

In Mexico, a whopping 28.7% of workers stay in the office over 50 hours a week, and Mexican workers only have 12.4 hours of free time outside of work each day. Despite not having the longest workday, the average Mexican worker puts in more hours at the office annually than any other nationality.

Average annual hours worked per worker: 2,148

2. Turkey has a 47-hour workweek.

© Emrah Gurel/AP

Turkey works longer hours than any other OECD country: 32% of workers report working more than 50 hours a week. However, many of them still find free time outside of work: Turkish workers spend 14.8 hours outside the office a day, just below the OECD average of 15 hours.

Average annual hours worked per worker: N/A

1. Colombia has a 47.7-hour workweek.

© Ivan Valencia/AP

Colombia is in last place for the OECD's overall work-life balance index for a number of reasons. Aside from having the longest average workweek, Colombians have less free time than any other nationality outside of work: only 12 hours a day on average. They're also ranked no. 38 out of 40 for workers working over 50 hours a week - 26.6% of workers work long hours, behind only Mexico and Turkey.

Average annual hours worked per worker: N/A


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Unplugged Magazine: 18 countries with more exhausting workweeks than the US
18 countries with more exhausting workweeks than the US
Unplugged Magazine
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